Govt film institute shuts door on non-Karnataka students

Govt film institute shuts door on non-Karnataka students

The Government Film and Television Institute (GFTI) in Hesaraghatta, Karnataka’s oldest film institute, is now out of bounds for students from other states.

Following last year’s agitation by students - most of them from outside the state - demanding better facilities, the state government has tweaked the admission norms at the institute this year, virtually reserving all 66 seats for students from Karnataka.

“If all the seats approved in the institute are not fully filled up by students from Karnataka, the vacant seats can be filled up by non-Karnataka students,” the Department of Higher Education has stated in a letter to the Department of Technical Education, which runs the institute.

Accordingly, the institute has 24 students this year and officials say all of them are from Karnataka. Another 42 seats are vacant, but the admission process has concluded. “Admissions have to close by August 15 as per a Supreme Court order,” Technical Education Director H U Talawar said. “The decision to reserve seats for Karnataka students is right. This is how it was from 1943 to 1995,” he said. GFTI is the only state-run film institute in Karnataka.

The 74-year old institute, which counts veterans like Govind Nihalani, V K Murthy and Ashok Kashyap as alumni, offers diploma courses in sound recording engineering and cinematography. The courses were housed in the S J Polytechnic campus, before shifting to a 25-acre campus in Hesaraghatta in July 1998.

Students of the institute staged a protest for over 70 days last year, demanding proper equipment and experienced faculty from the film industry. However, a fact-finding committee appointed by the government concluded that the there was nothing wrong at the GFTI, rubbishing allegations made by the students.

National Award-winning filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli opposed the move to restrict admissions to students belonging to one state. “It’s true that students who agitated were from other states and that Karnataka students did not support them,” he said. “It’s okay if the government wants to prioritise admissions for Karnataka students, while keeping the doors open for others.” 

Students continue to have problems at the institute, with the latest being the new curriculum that they say has some irrelevant subjects. Talawar, however, said the curriculum was revised by an expert panel.

The government has also brought down the eligibility requirement for admissions from pre-university (science) to SSLC. This measure is expected to improve admissions at the institute.

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